Mason falls to Maryland, 69-62 despite Holloway's shooting performance

Photos by Dakota Cunningham

WASHINGTON, D.C.--- Every shot that left Patrick Holloway’s hand Sunday afternoon seemed to find the bottom of the net.

Whether he was coming off a ball screen or finding a seam for a mid-range jump shot, the freshman had the presence and confidence of a seasoned veteran to finish the play. However, his 17 points and three three-pointers would not be enough for George Mason University as they fell to the University of Maryland 69-62 in front of 10,256 fans at the Verizon Center.

The freshman All-Met Player of the Year showcased his shooting ability, providing the Patriots with a deep threat off the bench that Coach Paul Hewitt has turned to in key situations in the early going.

“He always thinks he’s in a groove,” said Hewitt, provoking a laugh from his young shooting guard.

In his 22 minutes of play, before fouling out to an ovation from the Mason faithful, Holloway was in his groove, driving the lane for nearly uncontested runners, floaters and mid-range jumpers and hitting the occasional three-point shot. On the Verizon Center stage, he was given the chance to compete and took advantage of the opportunity he was provided.

“Once I knock down one or two, it helps me get into a groove and sometimes I get cold a little bit but my teammates keep looking for me so I appreciate that,” said Holloway.

Hewitt’s game plan going into the game was to give Holloway and sophomore guard Vaughn Gray the opportunity to excel and contribute early and often. With junior guard Vertrail Vaughns’ drop in production, the move gave the Patriots more deep threat options, and allowed them to spread the floor and create efficient shot opportunities.  

For the first five minutes of the game, Maryland guard Dez Wells and Mason junior guard Sherrod Wright went nearly shot-for-shot to open the scoring for their teams. Wells, a transfer from the University of Xavier, had the hot hand early, and throughout the contest, scoring the Terrapins first eight points and finishing with a career-high 25 points.

“He’s a good player,” said Wright, who was charged with the daunting task of guarding the bulky guard for much of the game. “He has a wide body and he knows how to use it and he gets to the basket very well.”

The majority of Wells’ looks came in the paint as he beat the first defender and attacked the basket aggressively to either score in the lane or draw a foul. Coming off a 23-point performance against Northwestern University, he built off the success he had by being the aggressor with the basketball in his hands and creating his own shot. 

Aside from Holloway and Wright who each finished with 17 points, the rest of the Patriots struggled to score, shooting a measly 21 percent on 10-of-47 from the field. Junior guard Bryon Allen, sophomores Vaughn Gray and Corey Edwards and freshman Marko Gujanicic didn’t record a field goal throughout the entire game, leading to 31 percent shooting from the field.  

“We had our chances and we let things slip away,” said Hewitt, on the loss. “Once we got a lead, I think our shot selection and decision-making, which has been up and down all year offensively, deserted us.”

The Patriots defense was more tenacious and aggressive, playing up to the caliber of Maryland and forcing them to turn the ball over 19 times. With strong defensive performances from sophomore Anali Okolji and Corey Edwards, Mason scored 21 points off of Maryland’s turnovers, with 12 of them coming on steals. Turnovers have been an achilles’ heel for the Patriots and were at their lowest mark this season with just nine turnovers and only four in the second half.

“We’ve been improving over the last year with that but again some of our decision-making at key times I just can’t explain but we’ll keep working at it and we’re getting better,” said Hewitt.

In the second half, Maryland made a point of emphasis to feed the post for more high percentage looks, shooting only four three-pointers in the second half.

The Terrapins 7’1” center Alex Len, who finished with 12 points, nine rebounds and three blocks, was double-teamed by forwards Johnny Williams and Erik Copes for the better part of the game. But, in the second half, he was able to operate on the low block more effectively, as the Patriots had to clamp down on penetrating guards.

“I thought we did a good job of handling their bigs, but we weren’t able to keep their guards out of the paint,” said Hewitt.

For the humble Holloway, his performance would pale in comparison to the euphoria of a Mason victory, but despite the outcome, the opportunity he has been given by Coach Hewitt has only strengthened his confidence and belief in his abilities.  

“I see every game as an opportunity,” said Holloway. “I’m young…and we have a lot of good guards so anytime I can get an opportunity to go out there, it’s an opportunity for me to earn more playing time and earn more respect.”

The Patriots face visiting University of Maryland-Baltimore County Tuesday night at the Patriot Center. The game will tip-off at 7 p.m. and can be found on television and radio on MASN and 106.7 The Fan respectively. 


(Video filmed by Trevor DeSaussure)

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